Brother Augustus (Arsense) Poignant, C.S.C. (1816-1900)

augustus“On the ninth of July, 1900, the genial old pioneer, Brother Augustus, was suddenly summoned before God to give an account of his talents. He came to Indiana with the second band that crossed the Atlantic to join Father Sorin, and was extremely young when he bade adieu to home and country. Brother Augustus was a tailor and worked at his humble trade for many years previous to his death. There was a charm in his simplicity that won the hearts of his Brothers in religion. He was candid, without guile, without mental reservation, without secret calculation. There was not a fold in his character, not a wrinkle in his childlike dealings with others. The evening of his death he assisted at Benediction, and made some characteristic efforts to join in the singing. During recreation that same evening he appeared more joyful than usual. He went quietly to his bed at the appointed hour, but had sweetly answered his Deo Gratias to an Angel, when the Community Excitator rapped on his door next morning” (Trahey, James J., C.S.C. The Brothers of Holy Cross, 1900). “Professor Stace speaks of the braying bassoon of Brother Augustus who played in the Band with the future Archbishop Reardon, Southern France” (Scholastic, 1888). “The Notre Dame of the time [1845] was a lonely log cabin built by the side of a lake in a large, wild forest. Indians roamed freely about the woods, and used frequently to walk in where the little band of white men were dwelling, and without asking permission, taking whatever they wished. It was primeval America. This was Notre Dame as Brother Augustus found it. He helped replace the log cabin by the little frame building [Old College]” (Scholastic, P. J. Ragan, n. d.). “Brother Augustus died a sudden but not an unprepared death” (Circular Letter, Father Français, 1900)

Mother Angela Gillespie C.S.C. (1824-1887)

1b94e-mother2bangela.jpgMother Angela Gillespie, C.S.C. was born Eliza Maria Gillespie near Brownsville, Pennsylvania, on February 21, 1824. In 1853, after years of charitable work and teaching positions in Lancaster, Ohio, and at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, she felt called to the religious life and devoted the remainder of her days to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She became director of studies at Saint Mary’s Academy in Bertrand, Michigan, and was made superior of the convent in 1855. At the academy (which later became St. Mary’s College and was moved to a new site near Notre Dame), Mother Angela, who strongly believed in full educational rights for women, instituted courses in advanced mathematics, science, foreign languages, philosophy, theology, art, and music. In addition to preparing the sisters to teach in Chicago’s parochial schools, the order established Saint Angela’s Academy in Morris, Illinois. In 1860, Mother Angela began publishing  Metropolitan Readers, a graded textbook series used in elementary through college courses. Mother Angela and eighty of her sisters served as nurses during the Civil War. Under her direction, the Congregation of the Holy Cross and its educational work was greatly expanded, with 45 institutions founded between 1855 and 1882. She died at St. Mary’s College in 1887.

Rev. Julius Nieuwland, C.S.C. (1878-1936)

unnamed (4)nieuwland-1He was the inventor of the first synthetic rubber manufactured by Du Pont. At the time of his invention, Nieuwland was a chemistry professor at the University of Notre Dame and a Holy Cross priest. Father Nieuwland was born of Flemish parents and immigrated as a youngster with his family to South Bend, Indiana. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1899, entered Holy Cross and was ordained in 1903. He received his Ph.D. from Catholic University in 1904. For a number of years, he taught his first love, botany, at Notre Dame and collected plants and made drawings of such right up to his death. In 1915, he started a journal dedicated to the botany of the Midwest, The American Naturalist. In 1918 became a professor of organic chemistry. At that time, he was working with acetylene. In the course of this work, he discovered a reaction between acetylene and arsenic trichloride that eventually led to the development of the poison gas lewisite. Nieuwland’s work with acetylene also led him into a collaboration with scientists at Du Pont. Together, they found that upon treating monovinylacetylene with hydrogen  chloride to produce chloroprene and polymerizing the result, a very durable synthetic rubber, neoprene, was produced. Du Pont placed this rubber on the market in 1932 under the brand name Duprene. The company offered Fr. Nieuwland $1,000 a year as an honorarium which he declined asking instead for a stipend to be used to buy a supply of books for the chemistry department. Had he left the Congregation because of his discovery, he would have become “wildly” wealthy, yet he had no interest in the money or the fame.

(Information taken from McCool, Deanna C., “The Naturalist”, Notre Dame Magazine and http://www.madehow.com/inventorbios/70/Julius-Nieuwland.html#ixzz5eZX3avOD)

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